2016 Ghostbusters (Full Review)

The original Ghostbusters came out in 1984. Who knew it was such an “untouchable” classic? The internet has somehow been outraged since the idea was first announced as if this is the first time an old film series has been kick started for modern day. And if this new film, directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy), being full of women in the leading roles is the only reason you’re against seeing it… then congratulations, you’re a sexist… because being a male was never given as a prerequisite in the original. Now that the film is finally out, it’s past time to judge this new Ghostbusters on its actual merit.

Ghostbusters_2016_film_posterLike the original films, this one also follows three paranormal scientists and one regular, street savvy African American citizen as they band together to take out New York’s rising ghostly threats. Despite writing a book on the existence of ghosts, Physics professor, Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is trying to put her ridiculed past behind her. That is until a real ghost appears and reunites her with childhood friend, co-author and fellow ghost scientist Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). Together with Yates’ quirky engineer assistant, Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) they create ways to fight and trap the ghosts despite the New York City Mayor (Andy Garcia)’s attempts to keep the events private. With the help of MTA worker and eye witness Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), and with a not so intelligent secretary (Chris Hemsworth), they set up shot above a Chinese Restaurant as the Ghostbusters.

Even though the original film predates my existence, I grew up a fan of Ghostbusters and even had the toy play set as a kid. But I was admittedly skeptical about the film like many were as I was bombarded with goofy trailer after trailer and commercial after commercial. And in the first few minutes I almost felt like I was headed down a hokey path filled with sight gags and slime. But once all of the major players are introduced, this new Ghostbusters actually turns into hilarious summer fun. This is due, almost entirely, to the undeniable charisma and chemistry of the leading ladies.

Kristen Wiig’s socially awkward Gilbert comes off as endearing and her school girl crush on Hemsworth’s comically dumb Kevin works well. McCarthy is unsurprisingly solid in the leading role and her character’s reoccurring gag with the Chinese restaurant delivery boy (Deadpool’s Karan Soni) hits its mark every single time. Even Leslie Jones, despite being the weak link, manages to conjure up a few laugh out loud moments. But the queen of the film is Kate McKinnon. Whether it’s physical comedy or just snappy dialogue, the Holtzman character delivers every second she’s on screen and is enough to make even the surliest of movie goers chuckle.

Even the action sequence at the film’s too familiar climax manages to be exciting. Sprinkle in some hearty cameos from the original main cast and this movie does enough to make for hearty entertainment even if it is something we’ve seen before. The only glaringly bad thing about the movie is the awful remix of the original theme done by Fall Out Boy. It isn’t as good as the first Ghostbusters, but who said it had to be? This movie has enough in its cast to be enjoyed on its own without having to be compared side by side to a film that is over 20 years old. So if you’re a fan or a newcomer that’s willing to see a movie before you judge it and if you’re more interested in comedic timing rather than the actors’ chromosomes, then this new Ghostbusters should be time well spent.

FINAL GRADE: B

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Perfect Match/The Boss Quick Reviews

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus (somewhat recovering from the disappointment of Batman v Superman). But I’ve still been doing my best to keep up with all of the new releases. Here are two films to avoid if you haven’t spent money on them already.

ThePerfectMatchPosterTHE PERFECT MATCH 106 and Park host turned actor, Terrence J gets the star treatment in his first leading role. Fresh off getting significant screen time in the Think Like A Man films as a humble, church going Mama’s boy, Terrence switches things up this time as Charlie, a successful bachelor who wants anything but a serious relationship despite the fact that his best friends (Donald Faison, Lauren London, Robert Riley, Dascha Polanco) are all married. Believing that he is immune to love, and ignoring the counsel of his older sister (Paula Patton), Charlie takes a bet that he can withstand a sexual relationship with new flame, Eva (Cassie Ventura), without falling for her and wanting something more.

The movie isn’t unwatchable, but there are numerous qualities that may make you feel like you overspent for the price of admission. A cast of mainly B-listers and a relatively flimsy script that for some reason includes a subplot involving rapper French Montana as himself, don’t help the mediocre production value and cinematography that are both best suited for a BET original movie. But the biggest problem is Terrence J. After watching him hold his own in an ensemble cast as a choir boy, seeing him here as a womanizing playboy just never feels right. And when your lead actor isn’t quite believable, even a few funny jokes and a pleasantly surprising twist in the final act can’t save this movie from feeling like something best suited for Redbox and a rainy day. FINAL GRADE: C-

 

The_Boss_posterTHE BOSS I’m beginning to wonder if Melissa McCarthy is doing this on purpose. We know McCarthy can be downright hilarious (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy). And yet, she continues to put out a stinker (Identity Thief, Tammy) every so often to make you that much more skeptical about her next film. This newest unfunny, cash grab sees McCarthy taking on the role of  orphan turned despicable, rich mogul Michele Darnell.  After being ratted out for insider stock trading by her ex (Peter Dinklage), Darnell hits rock bottom and must room with her former assistant (Kristen Bell) who is a single mother raising a teenage daughter.

This may very well be McCarthy’s worst film. I spent the first 45 minutes waiting to laugh and even after the movie was over I had trouble recollecting a single funny moment. The fact that this movie is a comedy makes it unwatchable for that reason alone and makes the tiny dose of heart toward the end seem like an afterthought. Then there’s Peter Dinklage, who absolutely phones it in with a role so cartoonish, it makes his performance in last summer’s Pixels seem Oscar worthy. I’ll give McCarthy a pass on this one, so long as she never does anything like it again. FINAL GRADE: D-

Spy (Full Review)

Jason Statham should really consider doing more comedies. Who knew the guy had such a knack for it? The top billing may read “Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig”, but it’s Statham who actually steals the show. Not that McCarthy doesn’t hold her own. That isn’t the case at all. In fact, each member of this all star cast pulls their comedic weight to bring together one of the most entertaining action-comedies in quite a while.

Spy2015_TeaserPosterIn Spy, Melissa McCarthy stars as Susan Cooper, a CIA agent, who despite being skilled herself, spends her days assisting super secret agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) from an earpiece and an office desk. That changes when wealthy Bulgarian heiress, Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), discovers the identities of every CIA field agent forcing CIA head, Elaine Crocker (Allison Janney) to send soft spoken Susan undercover to prevent Boyanov from selling a nuclear bomb.

The chemistry between the cast is solid and each character gets their comedic moment to shine. If you aren’t a fan of McCarthy’s potty mouth routine, then you’ll be turned off by this film. If you are anything near a casual fan of McCarthy, you’ll find her hilarious in this role. Byrne, who we’ve seen do comedy before (Bridesmaids, Get Him to The Greek, Neighbors) doesn’t miss a beat as the film’s villain and Miranda Hart is equally enjoyable as Susan’s unassuming best friend. But as mentioned before, Statham is a scene stealer as Agent Rick Ford, an obnoxious caricature of the characters Statham usually plays in his movies. He spends the entire film spouting off his numerous accolades while giving one hilariously unbelievable tale after another.

The film isn’t nearly as funny as Bridesmaids, but does include enough side splitting moments to put it a step above Feig and McCarthy’s last team-up, The Heat. And when it isn’t making you laugh, Spy manages to captivate with a fair share of impressive action sequences. After last summer’s flop, Tammy, it’s good to see that McCarthy can still hit our funny bones. And it’s also good to see an action comedy that manages to succeed at delivering an entertaining story about an unassuming hero that defies the norm.

FINAL GRADE: B+

July 2014 Quick Reviews

New movies are coming out left and right. I’m just trying to keep up. Here are a few quick reviews from some recent July flicks I’ve seen…

Tammy

Tammy_posterBy now you should know all about Melissa McCarthy’s antics. And, by now, you should know whether or not you’re a fan. I, personally, have found her hilarious just about every time she is on a screen, whether it be movie (Bridesmaids, The Heat) or television. She is both quirky and lovable and even when her characters are abrasive, you can’t help but admire their gusto. But some scripts are even too dull for Melissa McCarthy to save (see IdentityThief). In the case of Tammy, there just isn’t enough here to make this film about a down on her luck woman going road tripping with her grandma (Susan Sarandon) worth sitting through. Did I laugh? Sure, a few times. Will you laugh if you like Melissa McCarthy? Probably. But the majority of the best chuckles can be found in the trailer, so there’s no point in sitting through a boring plot when that’s the case. FINAL GRADE: C-

Sex Tape

art-streiber_sex-tape-movie-posterAs the title suggests, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal star as a married couple who make a sex tape in order to recapture their once intimate relationship. After the video is mistakenly uploaded to iPads belonging to their friends and family, the couple go on a quest to cover up their blunder as well as find a mysterious texter who has already seen the tape. Jack Black has a fairly comedic cameo and Cameron Diaz still has a very nice body in her 40’s. That’s probably the only positive things I can say about this forgettable raunchy comedy wannabe (and even the latter complement is negated by Jason Segal nudity). I found myself checking the time and waiting for this one to be over, several times. There is barely any chemistry between the two leads and the force fed heartfelt moments fall flat. Even if you found moments in the trailer funny, I doubt there is much more that you’ll crack a smile at. FINAL GRADE: D  

The Purge: Anarchy

the-purge-anarchy-2014While the first Purge had its share of twists and turn, it left a lot to be desired. With such a broad premise; annual government sanctioned murder used to cleanse our sinful country in the near future, it doesn’t make much sense to have all of the action confined to one family in one house. Anarchy luckily takes the audience further into this world, giving more characters and perspectives about this twisted society than the first film ever dreamed of. If you’re going to have a movie about legal mass murder then take us where the action is. The film follows a mother (Carmen Ejogo of Sparkle), her overly inquisitive daughter, a stranded couple going through separation, and a gun toting rogue out to avenge his child (Frank Grillo of Captain America: Winter Soldier) as they try and navigate their way through murderers, rapists, sick rich people, and even the treacherous government themselves. While the film does go through flashes of dryness and, like the first film, some characters are boring, overall the film is a solid upgrade from its predecessor and does a much better job hammering home the underlying political allegory. FINAL GRADE: B

June Movie Recap

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After Earth

I was initially excited about this movie. Who didn’t get goosebumps during Will Smith’s quote about danger being real, but fear being a choice? Then I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s name (Signs, The Last Airbender, The Happening). Saying I don’t like Shyamalan is like saying Fox News doesn’t like Democrats. The movie isn’t horrible… it’s just… bland. It’s slow paced, Will Smith is dry and emotionless for most of the film, and Jaden Smith can’t quite carry a movie without a supporting cast. *Sigh* So much potential wasted. FINAL GRADE: C-

This Is The End

There are certain movies that aren’t for some people. Those who are very religiously sensitive would probably be irked by several blasphemous moments in this film about the end of days. Everyone else with a sense of humor will find this movie enjoyable from start to finish. I’m in the latter category. The cast, all of whom play parodies of themselves, is absolutely hilarious and it’s evident that they have real chemistry. It’s a comedy. Don’t take it too serious and it is the funniest movie of the summer. Side note: The horde of cameos makes for a nice drinking game too. FINAL GRADE: A-

Man of Steel

Superman’s last venture on the big screen was one of the dullest superhero films ever made (Superman never threw a punch in the entire movie and technically didn’t even defeat Lex Luthor). So it’s hard not to call director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan’s reboot a triumph. While the middle of the film drags a bit and many of the supporting characters are underdeveloped, Snyder succeeds in doing something that is very difficult in this day and age; Make Superman both likable and relevant. Add that to action sequences and fight scenes that are as good, or better, than anything we’ve ever seen, and Man of Steel is just good enough to give us hope that DC Comics can finally start to compete with the cinematic giant that is Marvel. FINAL GRADE: B+

The Heat

Buddy cop movies are as cliché a genre as any in film. But this isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. To make them succeed, you don’t need a good plot, story, or villain. All you need is two likable characters in the main roles. The Heat has just that. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are a fantastic duo. McCarthy, specifically, is even funnier here than in her famous role in Bridesmaids. And if you can make the audience laugh, we can forgive little things like a cookie-cutter plot or Marlon Wayans playing a meaningless character.  FINAL GRADE: B+    

World War Z

Remember what I said about clichéd genres? The Zombie genre is one of them. Simply put, it’s hard to make these movies differentiate themselves from one another. Dawn of the Dead, Resident Evil, Zombieland… they all kind of play by the same rules. In that sense, WWZ is nothing new. Brad Pitt kind of feels wasted in this role. He isn’t bad, but there’s just not much for him to do here. Nevertheless, the movie does at least give enough suspenseful moments to make it worth at least one good look.  FINAL GRADE: B-

Monsters University

Some would argue that Pixar has fallen off as of late. Cars 2 is one of the most unnecessary sequels ever made and Brave, although good, doesn’t measure up to such classics as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, or The Incredibles. In Monsters U, there was a huge risk to be another Cars 2. Did we really need a prequel to 2001’s Monster’s, Inc.? The answer is no, we don’t NEED it. But after watching this movie, I’m glad we got it anyway. Monsters U is amazing from start to finish. For anyone who has ever been to college, it is a nostalgic homage to everything that makes the collegiate experience worth while. Even better, however, is the messages of the film which give it a heart and soul that even the first Monsters movie couldn’t match. FINAL GRADE: A